To the editor:
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending the day with Cape Coral firefighters and although I already had a deep respect for the profession, the day had a profound and unexpected affect on me. I was looking forward to an exciting day of riding along on calls and witnessing first hand what our firefighters go through on a "normal" day. What I wasn't expecting was the conversations with the firefighters about their experiences on the job, their passion for their profession, the atmosphere of service above self and how they stand together united as brothers and sisters.
There has been an immense amount of chatter about the fire assessment fee and much of it is misinformed. In a city that derives approximately 10 percent of its tax base from non residential, anything we can do to diversify our revenue streams must occur. The fire assessment fee frees up general fund dollars that previously were directed to fire and allows these general fund dollars to be utilized in a much broader scope. The ability to have these general fund dollars available for more than just fire gives our city leaders much needed flexibility in how these dollars are invested back into our community.
For those who feel this fee will increase your taxes, you are simply incorrect. In almost all cases there will be a corresponding decrease in ad valorem which will offset the fire assessment fee. The revenues diverted from fire and put back into the general fund will be replaced with the fire assessment fee. This fee assists our fire department with the needed revenues to continue to provide the services we all expect.
I witnessed first hand how equipment needs to be upgraded, how many of the fire trucks need to be replaced and most of all, how understaffed our stations are. I have served this community in many capacities and as as result have held many titles but I am most proud of my recent title of Honorary Probationary Cape Coral Firefighter Mazurkiewicz. The men and women that serve as first responders in our community are to be commended for their dedication to their profession, their communities and to each other and I am thankful they answered the call to serve.